Inspired Smith leads Australia to victory over South Africa

  • Reuters, Melbourne
  • Updated: Nov 21, 2014 18:48 IST

Steve Smith smashed a brilliant century to lead Australia to a series-clinching three-wicket win over South Africa in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) on Friday.

Smith hit a career-best 104 from 112 deliveries to register his second ODI hundred as the Australians passed South Africa's 267 for eight with six balls to spare at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia were in deep trouble after the top-order collapsed to 98 for five in the 25th over but Smith and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade turned things around.

The pair added 121 runs for the sixth wicket before Wade departed for 52 (from 59 balls) in the 45th over with the match still in the balance.

But all-rounder James Faulkner, who finished unbeaten on 34 off 19 balls, dominated a 48-run stand with Smith to tie the scores.

Smith had the chance to hit the winning run but the 25-year-old was bowled by left-arm spinner Robin Peterson trying to smash the ball out of the ground, leaving Pat Cummins to seal the victory off the next ball.

"I was lucky enough to have some good partners out there," Smith told reporters. "It made it a lot easier.

"You need a partnership and myself and Wade managed to do that, put on a hundred.

"Then James just finished it off. I just thought if we could be still be there at the end with a few wickets in hand we were always a chance."

AB De Villiers earlier fell just short of a deserved hundred after a masterful batting display for the Proteas.

The South African skipper made 91 off 88 deliveries and David Miller hit a quick-fire 45 for the visitors, who were looking at a total in excess of 300 after reaching 230 for four in the 42nd.

But when De Villiers holed out to Smith at deep midwicket after being deceived by a slower ball from Cummins, the runs suddenly dried up and the South Africans added only 51 off their last 10 overs.

"We didn't finish well," South Africa coach Russell Domingo said. "We fell short at the back end with both bat and ball."

Despite the absence of injured captain Michael Clarke and strike bowler Mitchell Johnson, the Australians wrapped up the series before Sunday's final match in Sydney.

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